Jennifer Wells Ph.D.
Core Faculty in Transformative Studies
Jennifer Wells, PhD, is a scholar of transdisciplinary complexity theories, sustainability, environmental ethics, climate change, and the esoteric. She has made one documentary film and is working on ideas for other films and multimedia projects. Jennifer has written several articles and is working on a book regarding what she sees as the goldmine of transdisciplinary complexity theories, a substantial resource for addressing global social and environmental change. Implications flowing directly from complexity theories include clarified and advanced explanations of such phenomena as: uncertainty, unknowability, network causality, unintended consequences, vulnerability, resilience, and rich opportunities for multifaceted, pluralistic approaches, virtuous circles of change, and synergistic solutions and reforms. This theoretical lens provides a wealth of insights for the social and human sciences, as well as environmental ethics and justice.
Her dissertation included a comprehensive overview of complexity theories, and a critique of their significance and application to climate change science, policy and ethics. Through this overview of complexity, her dissertation aimed to help make complexity more visible, explicit, and accessible for critical research in environmental ethics, risk studies, and futures studies. After completing a MA degree in Environmental Management at Yale University, she completed a dual PhD at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Philosophy Department, the Sorbonne, Paris IV, in Paris, France.
Jennifer is a mystic scholar, writer, environmentalist and activist. Born and raised in New York City, she worked as a journalist at several newspapers and magazines, and became increasingly interested in the intersection of human rights, social and environmental issues, and rapid global change. Throughout school, Jennifer spent years as a political activist. She spent one year working for human rights, trying to defend the poor from routine military assassination in the slums of Guatemala City, also writing about environmental devastation there, such as the illegal logging of the Peten Jungle and the deadly battle over a peasant land takeover in San Marcos. These experiences showed her that social injustice, poverty, and environmental deterioration proceed in a vicious circle. Jennifer has studied shamanism and sweat lodge ceremonies with the Lakota Indians, volunteered in prisons in New York City and San Francisco, helped to build green houses and operate an artist community and organic farm in northwest Connecticut, and lived for several years in France.
In her last job in New York City, she worked as Program Director in a sustainability education organization, conducting teacher training sessions for high school and college teachers and program managers, and integrating systems concepts into high school and college textbooks and classrooms. While utilizing some systems theories like life cycle assessment is clearly significant, it seemed to her like picking out a few gems and leaving behind the goldmine. It was then that she saw that the systems concepts taking hold in environmental education and other areas of urgently needed societal reform could be greatly enhanced with a more comprehensive integration of the very broad field of complexity theories. While this has been her focus, she remains highly interested in many other areas of theory and practice.